St. Louis Cardinals MLB Notebook – Week of February 18-24

photo: Jose Martinez (Jeff Curry/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals are 1-1 in early spring training action and outfielder Jose Martinez has a new contract. In our weekly history feature, the Hall of Fame career of The Fordham Flash, Frankie Frisch, is remembered.

Spring training game recaps

Saturday, February 23 – Cardinals 11, Marlins 1

Miles Mikolas (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The St. Louis Cardinals pounded the Miami Marlins in the first game of 2019 Grapefruit League action on Saturday.  Starter Miles Mikolas pitched two innings, retiring all six batters faced.  Following Mikolas on the mound were Jack Flaherty, Tommy Layne, Chris Beck, Hunter Cervenka, Ryan Helsley, and Ryan Meisinger.  Flaherty gave up the only Miami run.

It was the minor leaguers who shined after the starters departed.  Drew Robinson went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.  Robinson is a candidate to make the opening roster as a utility fielder. Tommy Edman went 3-for-4 with a RBI and two runs scored.  Max Schrock was 3-for-4 with four RBI, including a three-run home run.  Earlier, Ramon Urias hit a three-run shot and was 2-for-4.  Lane Thomas was 3-for-3 and Andrew Knizner was 2-for-3.  Rangel Ravelo, who started the game at first base, was 2-for-5.

Sunday, February 24 – Cardinals 2, Nationals 12

Tyler O’Neill (Steve Mitchell/Imagn)

The Cardinals were the victims rather than the perpetrators of a rout on Sunday, as the Nationals walloped the Redbirds 12-2.  Offense was scarce for St. Louis, with the highlight a solo blast from Tyler O’ Neill.  Andrew Knizner provided the other run.  Once again, Drew Robinson made his presence and his wish for an opening day roster spot known.  Robinson went 2-for-3 with a double and was the only Cardinal with multiple hits.

Starter Michael Wacha pitched two innings, giving up one run on one hit.  He fanned one and walked one.  Daniel Ponce De Leon had a rough outing and was taken out after two outs in the third inning.  He gave up three runs on one hit.  Chasen Shreve got the last out of the inning.  John Gant followed with two innings.  Genesis Cabrera had a hard time on the mound as well, as he surrendered four runs in only 2/3 innings.  Andrew Morales relinquished three additional runs and was removed with a shoulder issue.  Seth Elledge, Tyler Webb, and Giovanny Gallegos pitched the final three innings.

Cardinals give Martinez two-year deal

In a somewhat surprise move, the Cardinals signed outfielder Jose Martinez to a two-year contract extension, the team announced on Saturday.  Martinez, the subject of trade rumors both at the July deadline in 2018 and in the offseason, accepted a deal worth $3.25 million, which buys out one of his arbitration years.  The deal is a raise in salary for 2019 and includes a signing bonus.

Jose Martinez

The deal seems to have been prompted by the news that Martinez had been offered a job playing in Japan, revealed to the media by President of Baseball Operations John Mozeliak.  However, such an opportunity could only have occurred had the team been willing to sell Martinez’ rights.  The deal provides Martinez with a measure of financial security, something that has a unique importance for the outfielder, whose family resides in the politically explosive country of Venezuela.

Martinez led the team in batting average (.305), and hits (163) last season and has slashed .309/.372/.478 since making his Cardinals debut in September of 2016.  Martinez spent some time playing first base last season, but ended the season in the outfield, his natural position.  With the return of Dexter Fowler from injury and the addition of Paul Goldschmidt at first base, Martinez will likely be a bench option in a corner outfield spot, where his defense plays better than at first base.

Martinez would have been arbitration eligible in 2020 and will be a free agent after the 2022 season. Further details here:

Cardinals Announce Two-Year Deal with Jose Martinez

Spring Training News and Notes

Below is a summary of various reports coming out of Spring Training 2019:

  • In Sunday’s game against the Nationals, Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, and Paul Goldschmidt topped the lineup in the first three spots. Manager Mike Shildt revealed that he plans to continue with this alignment at least through the first half of spring games.
  • The Grapefruit League debut of LHP Andrew Miller will be delayed a bit. Miller will throw to live batters on Monday along with Alex Reyes, and Jordan Hicks.  All three hurlers are on a slower spring program for precautionary reasons.  Miller missed two months of his 2018 season due to right knee inflammation.
  • Shildt named RHP Miles Mikolas as the regular season opening day starter. Mikolas retired all six batters he faced in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.  Mikolas will make at least five more Grapefruit League starts before spring training wraps up.
  • The beginning of Grapefruit League action brought something new for players and fans to talk about. MLB is doing a trial run of a 20-second pitch clock in spring games this year.  Its regular-season introduction may hinges on talks between MLB and the players union.  Though Commissioner Rob Manfred has the authority under the CBA to implement the clock without the union’s consent, he has indicated he would prefer to have the union’s consent.  Talks on this issue, as well as other potential rule changes, are ongoing.

Trade and Acquisition Rumors

There are no trade or acquisition rumors to report.


There are no transactions to report.

Injury Report

Yadier Molina (knee surgery) has not yet appeared in either of the first two spring games and is not expected to catch in games at least until mid-March.  Molina has engaged in catching drills and on Saturday he squatted behind the plate for the first time this spring to catch Adam Wainwright’s side session.  Molina is expected to appear in some spring games to bat as the designated hitter.

Andrew Morales made an early exit from Sunday’s game due to right shoulder discomfort.  Morales will undergo further evaluation in the coming days.  The right hander is a spring non-roster invitee.

Looking Ahead

Spring Training games have begun.  The first two resulted in a 1-1 split, with the Cardinals defeating the Marlins but losing to the Nats.  The Cardinals will play the Tigers at home on Monday, followed by a second game against the Nats on Tuesday in Palm Beach.  Jake Woodford will get the start on Monday, and Adam Wainwright is scheduled for the Tuesday start.  Home games against the Braves and Mets lead into a weekend schedule of games against the Astros, Marlins, and Mets again.   The Spring Training Schedule can be found here. TCN’s consolidated Cardinals spring radio and television schedule follows.

Cardinals Announce 2019 Spring Training TV and Radio Schedule

Opening Day of the 2019 regular season begins on March 28 with the Cardinals on the road in Milwaukee.  In the four-game series against the Brewers, the first game will start at 1:10 CT, with a 7:10 CT first pitch on Friday, 6:10 CT on Saturday, and 1:10 CT on Sunday.

The Cardinals continue on the road to Pittsburgh to play two games against the Pirates beginning on April 1.  There will be no game on Tuesday, April 2.  The second game of the series takes place on Wednesday, April 3.

The Cardinals home opener will be on Thursday, April 4 against the San Diego Padres.  Friday will be an off day, and the Cardinals will resume the series with two games against the Padres on Saturday and Sunday.

Blast from the Past

This week’s Blast from the Past recalls the career of Hall of Famer Frankie Frisch, who played 11 seasons for the Cardinals and was a player-manager for the last five of those years.

Frankie Frisch

Frisch was born on September 9, 1898 in the Bronx, New York.  He attended the Fordham Preparatory School and Fordham University, where he excelled in four sports, baseball, football, basketball and track, and earned the nickname, “The Fordham Flash”.

Frisch left school in 1919 to sign a contract with the New York Giants, skipping the minor leagues and going straight to the majors. The switch-hitter led the league in stolen bases in his first full season in 1920 and played both second and third base for the Giants until 1923, when he became a full time second baseman.

Frisch played with the Giants through the 1926 season.  He batted over.300 for the last six seasons in New York and helped the Giants win the World Series in 1921 and 1922.

The Giants traded Frisch to the Cardinals after the 1926 season in exchange for another future Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby.  The trade occurred after a memorable blowup with Giants manager John McGraw, the subject of last week’s Blast from the Past.

Frisch became the Cardinals’ second baseman and played on four World Series teams in 1928, 1930, 1931 and 1934.  St. Louis’ famed “Gashouse Gang” was built around Frisch, who played with a no holds barred approach.  The Cardinals had won only one NL pennant before Frisch joined the team.

The second baseman won the NL MVP Award in 1931 after batting .311 and leading the league with 28 stolen bases.  He was an All-Star in the game’s first three years, from 1933-1935.

He became the player-manager of the Cardinals in 1933 and managed the club to its fourth World Series title, in 1934.  He finished his playing career in 1937 and managed the Cardinals for one more season in 1938.  Frisch continued managing for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1940-1946 and the Chicago Cubs from 1949-1951.

Frisch followed up his playing and managing career with a stint in broadcasting, first as a color commentator on Boston radio.  From 1959-1961, he was a member of the backup crew for the Game of the Week on CBS.

He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947 on the fifth ballot, with a vote of 84.47%.  Frisch became a member of the HOF Veterans Committee and later its chairman.  During this time, a number of Frisch’s ex-teammates were elected to the Hall, something which has been widely criticized by the baseball media.

Frisch died on March 12, 1973, in Wilmington Delaware, of injuries suffered in a car accident a month earlier.  He was 74 years old.  Ironically the accident occurred as he was returning from a meeting of the Veterans Committee.

As a Cooperstown honoree, Frisch was inducted into the Cardinals Hall of Fame as part of the 2014 inaugural class.

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